Recently, I read an article posted in Billboard.biz written by Glenn Peoples. His article stated that the RIAA is proposing to modernize the music licensing system in the US. Lots of ideas for change are proposed in this article, but the one that intrigues me the most is the suggestion to bundle all of the rights into one licensing system. This is not a new idea, but probably new in the hallways at the RIAA. Most other western countries adopted this strategy years ago and because the labels and the publishers really struggle with one another, the US has lagged behind. I agree with the RIAA that this is the right direction.
They also suggest a royalty from terrestrial radio to the artists and labels. I have always found it strange that while the songwriters and publishers receive performance royalties from radio airplay, the artists and labels don’t. So many of the great singers, who don’t write, do not receive one dime from radio play. Being primarily a songwriter, I really shouldn’t be making this argument, but this is the right direction as well.
At the same time I find it bizarre that the artists and labels receive a much larger rate from the streaming services than the writers and publishers. That doesn’t seem quite fair either. Without the song, there is no artist.
While download sales are flat and only be replaced by streaming radio, serious action has to be taken. I would hope that they remove any fixed rate and enable the etailers/services to pay a fairer percentage of the revenue, rather than the statutory rates that are currently creating stalemates. In some cases that has happened, but as long as one fixed rate remains, the future of digital media is in question. I have always believed that if music was more available at a lower price, transactions would go through the roof and everyone would make more money.
I don’t claim to be an expert on these topics, especially the legal side, just an observer who hopes all artists, songwriters, labels and publishers get their fair share in the future, and at the same time fans and licensees can easily afford to acquire the content. The RIAA is headed in the right direction, hopefully others will jump on board and support their efforts.